Coaching for Compliance Vs Coaching with Compassion
Coaching, especially Executive Coaching from the perspective of appreciative inquiry as well as Positive Psychology has two broad approaches - Coaching for Compliance and Coaching with compassion. In coaching for compassion, we move the individual who is being coached, into the zone of being a Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) by initiating dialogues about hope, compassion, mindfulness, love or playfulness. The coach can also start asking questions about the ideal self of the coachee or the unique journey she had been through. On the other hand, coaching for compliance is consciously or unconsciously leading someone over to being a Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA) and this occurs when we tell someone what to do, how to do things, and how to feel. An example of Coaching for Compliance may include behavioral issues where a Senior Executive is to be coached about. Coaching with Compassion is on the other hand is focusing on everything "positive" where the coach and the coachee is co-creating various possibilities for an evolving future. In short, coaching for compliance begins with the assumption that something is not right and therefore is in need of “fixing”. While the underlying intention is good, by asserting our view of how someone should act or how he or she should be, pushes them towards NEA. And as soon as they go into the NEA mode, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is triggered and they become defensive and begin to shut down cognitively, perceptually and emotionally.
In small manageable amount, stress is beneficial to us because it can help us overcome daily challenges by giving us little boosts of energy and memory; it keeps us motivated and helps us accomplish tasks; physiologically, it can help protect our bodies from infection, and it is critical in arousing the fight-or-flight response necessary for survival. While we need a healthy dose of stress, modern life has afforded us more way more stress than necessary and we find ourselves overwhelmed which leads us to experiencing cognitive, emotional, perceptual and even physical impairment. The key then is for us to balance PEA and NEA in order to “survive and thrive”. The Coach, hence has a responsibility to take the coachee towards being a PEA even at times when the discussion prompts lead him/her towards NEA. It is surely important to understand the NEA because through that we can move towards the PEA.